Once upon a time, tort “reform” consisted of asking legislatures for protections and immunities from suits by capping damage awards on the most badly injured of people, so that responsibility shifts from the person/company that did the deed onto the victims to fend for themselves.
That’s fading away. This is what the new tort “reform” looks like for drug makers:
First, ghostwrite “research” that goes out under the name of private doctors;
Second, use the research to get FDA approval for your product, or hide contrary information from the overworked, underfunded FDA;
Third, use FDA approval to scream for immunity from lawsuits under the doctrine of preemption.
Fourth: Find anecdotes of lawyers doing dumb things, like suing for $54M for a pair of pants, to support the theory that the problem is plaintiffs lawyers, and have the Big Business lobbying arms use it for all its worth to distract from the issues. Remember, blame the plaintiffs’ lawyers, no matter what you have done wrong.
Update 4/17/08: Why is this so effective? Because preemption is a concept understood by less than 1% of the general population. Our elections are about more important things, like what kind of lapel pin a candidate wears.